Sunday, January 8, 2012
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The following two sections are offered to the reader in the hope that he or she may understand where the rest of this book (God Unbound) is aimed. Like driving a car too fast, one cannot really steer language to a conclusion, one can only aim it. I read John Spong's Why Christianity Must Change or Die [i] and was impressed by the seriousness of some of the issues he raises. I feel his book simply must be answered with urgent attention and I do not see anything filling this bill yet. So I think I'll give it a whack.
I apologize for the title. I mean no disrespect for God or for believers in Him. I only mean that some of our talk about God has attempted to limit Him and I deny all limits on God and declare that he is free of all boundaries and cannot be shackled. He is unbound in the sense of now having no manacles of the type forged by human language and in the sense that He never has had any kind of boundaries. Now I declare that we explicitly know it and must constantly say it.
God cannot be bound by language. He subtends or encompasses all contradictions, the children of language. All things are true in Him. He can be both a Ground of all Being and a Father God at the same time. I use Joseph Campbell's idea of Myth and scientific quantum law to answer John Spong who says Christianity must change or die. My argument is mainly nonscriptural. But Spong's argument is nonscriptural too, although he tries well to prove otherwise.
My secular arguments, inasmuch as they involve Joe Campbell's study of the high truth of Myth, are not repugnant to scripture. Campbell has respected with a deep and abiding love all Given human scripture in everything he wrote. Campbell's Christian critics have focused more on his discussion of origins of scripture than on his interpretations of it. His interpretations were Inspired.
The philosophy I express is one that parallels the idea that one dies to hatred when she eschews rancor. She denies to enmity the fertile ground in which it would grow into those most loathsome of thorny vines with their bitter fruit of animosity. By an identical construction, the Church dies to change when it discovers anew the living water and vital soil of love and forgiveness. Conscious of their stewardship, faithful Christians endeavor to a spiritual environmentalism that conserves this, our most sweet fruitful tree of many ancient values and traditions. These have helped make Christianity the great religion, indeed the salvation, of billions of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, all around the world. The Church dies to change by denying the destructive tendencies of contemporary social evolution.
The Quantum Church must also die in order to change. Old forms must be discarded when they shrink and become obsolete, like a snake's old skin. Otherwise those thin outward forms will strangle the spirit of the people. New ways of worship and praise must be invented, discovered or affirmed. Tolerance of every Christian's efforts to prayerfully enjoy the Triune Godhead through Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit must be shown by every other Christian. The walls of the living tomb, this verdant mausoleum, that divide us must themselves die ‑ they must utterly disappear.
I exuberantly embrace Darwinian evolution with spiritual and intellectual evolution in the sense advocated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his powerful work The Phenomenon of Man [ii] and many letters to his close friends. Yes, I do also consult the ultimate meaning of mythologist Joseph Campbell's life work. See The Power of Myth [iii], written with Bill Moyers. Those vivid mathematical descriptions of the ground of all being, Quantum Science, are also crucial elements in my approach, but my discussion is non-technical.
I differ with Bishop Spong. I do not believe that God is solely the Ground of All Being. He is utterly beyond Being. I think that Spong falls into the very trap that he criticizes others for failing to see: he puts God in a box. He defines Him and he believes his own definition. I say, now, not for the first time, we can consciously decide not to shackle God. We can deliberately avoid putting the manacles of language on Him. We can thereby free Him to do the wonderful things that He has always wanted to do for us. We can give Him the very permission that He gave us authority and responsibility to grant or withhold from Him. Finally, in modern times, partly with the help of science, God is Unbound.
I am a scientist. John Spong is an (emeritus) Episcopal bishop. He uses secular arguments to advance his thesis that Christianity must change. So, I feel compelled to do so also. Yes, I do indeed explain my position in terms of quantum science, Darwinism including the evolutionist views of Teilhard and the essential of Campbell. But I maintain, as Spong does, that the evidence is everywhere in scripture. I have provided appropriate references to the Bible and to sources of scriptural commentary.
Suffice it to say that scripture and extended scripture, consisting largely of today's continuing revelation in the form of verified science, implies that God exists and He is responsible for us in His truest image. This implication is inherent in our human quest for final essential truth, Absolute Truth. For if we had no notion of truth, falsehood would reign supreme and we would not even know it. But more importantly, we would have no standard with which to judge either. That standard is an ideal, and we must take this particular ideal as real or it has no motivating power. We have no choice but to believe in God.
I take that God made us in his image to mean He made us responsible beings. He cannot interfere in our affairs to save us from ourselves. We are responsible, so we must bear the consequences of our actions. Jetliners crash and hundreds are killed. But humans designed the aircraft, piloted it, maintained it and human air traffic controllers decided to land it in dangerous conditions. God would thereby revoke our privilege to act responsibly if He were to miraculously prevent the inevitable unholy accident.
We build cities in earthquake zones and at the feet of volcanoes, God doesn't. We sail ocean liners at full speed through iceberg laden waters, God doesn't. We poison the air and water so that even the tadpoles are encouraged to grow to be grotesquely deformed frogs while we suffer from heretofore most‑rare types of cancer. God doesn't poison things: He cleanses them.
* * * * *
I illustrate using religious graphics of the type that were made available to me by my very good friend and erstwhile mentor, Rev. George B. Koch, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in West Chicago, Illinois. Art is a driving force in Christianity. Our religion cannot be discussed adequately without reference to it. Artistic endeavor has elevated Christian thought since long before the Middle Ages. It is so important that we can barely speak without referring to some concept, idea or notion that has not been influenced by artistic convention. The artist=s metaphor is part of faith.
This book (God Unbound) is for those readers who are searching their hearts and souls for an answer to the modern question "Is God real?" You want to believe, maybe even attend church, but you wonder if there can really be a God in the light of science. I have written an apology for the Christian Faith and thereby apologize for all faiths. You are the same ladies and gentlemen who sought John Spong's answer and I know that you seek this book also.
[i]. Why Christianity Must Change Or Die; A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile - A New Reformation of the Church=s Faith and Practice, Rt. Rev. John S Spong, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998
[ii]. The Phenomenon of Man, Pierre Teilard de Chardin
[iii]. The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers,
ATHEISM, GOD, ETHICS AND MORALITY
This group of linked subjects is the nut, the core, the raison d'etré, the very mission of scripture. Atheists call moral principle moralic acid because it implies the existence of God and the corrosive guilt that allegedly causes so much purported mental illness. Atheists do not understand Christianity because if they did they would acknowledge that it is a religion offering an antidote to guilt that would arise anyway, even in an unchurched naive individual. We have evolved to experience guilt. Ethics may or may not imply God, but a uniform, compelling and satisfying ethic that has no reference to God is unlikely and cannot be relied upon through experience with it to influence behavior on a large enough scale to be effective. The key word is "uniform".
Christian evolutionary ethics
This kind of philosophy has as its focus an ideal morality that must be far outside the realm of everyday human boredom. It must grab attention. Christianity satisfies this requirement and by doing so provides a satisfying north star distant enough so that all can use it to orient themselves to each other and achieve equalization. Christianity also promotes maximal prosperous equilibria by faithfully endorsing the strongest possible principle of Love in God's Spirit.
Weak love is biological, narrowly evolutionary altruism in the sociobiological sense. It affects small groups within the same species in a way that might promote speciation by natural selection. It is the mission of Christianity to avoid speciation and to stop random evolution by natural selection. Christians want to stop random human evolution by natural selection because it leads to war, genocide and extinction among other reasons.
If we are to continue to evolve, we must do so by means other than by natural selection. Evolution may not have had any direction prior to Mankind, but it has acquired direction with nature's invention of Us and our invention of tools that allow us to control it. This means that, if we are to avoid chaos and extinction by violent overturn of the global human equilibrium we have no choice but to use artificial selection. This cannot mean eugenics because to avoid turbulence and promote smooth democratic global progress, as progress would be defined evolutionarily, expectations must remain roughly equal, changing globally only incrementally and preferably reversibly. No-one's rights may be abbrogated.
Synvolution must replace evolution by natural selection as the primary agent of change not only in human evolution but in all evolution on Earth. Synvolution is the slow and deliberate induction of change in whole genomes according to a master plan, even if that plan is a fractal blueprint that depends on what has gone before. Before human guided genetic evolution is allowed on a massive and global scale, there must be such a democratically agreed upon humane plan that is guided by the north star of a God. That is, it must respect our own responsibility and authority. That responsibility under such an Authority has dynamic perspectives beyond static natural law. In other words, genetic engineering must never become rogue and it must fit into an appropriate Master Plan. If God can do it, we can do it.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Secular humanism, metaphysical naturalism and atheism are Myths too!
All rational thought occurs through the medium of language, in one form or another. All language is metaphor. So, all dogma and doctrine, all religion and philosophy, is metaphorical in nature. Metaphorical expressions of truth systems are Myths in the Joseph Campbell sense if they have survived in the human collective psyche for a very long time. If they have indeed survived, they reflect deep and fundamental facts about humanity and her needs or desires. These facts must be respected. To ignore them or to diss them is to diss essential truth itself.
There is no such thing as atheism. If truth is your God, the logical extreme to which it is put, reductio ad absurdum, is that Truth is a kind of substance, an ultimate universal essence. This quintessence is responsible for all that we perceive as being real, whether it is really so, whether we admit to existential rationales or whether we wish on ourselves some kind of scientism. Truth is God.
Being responsible, as a sort of ground of all being, this Truth may just as well be regarded as a theistic Being. So what, if it is a Myth? Joseph Campbell extolls the power of Myth. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and all the others compose their own Myths. So, Quod est demonstandum, Mythologies cannot be ignored.
The Myth of Theistic God will always be with us. The challenge is not to debunk this God, it is to channel Him into useful rivers and canals that aid human survival. This is what humans do: we constrain God. We try to bind Him. Even when we try to deny His existence, we merely confirm Him. There are no atheists.
Humanity should survive. This is the first principle of scientific evolutionary morality and a rational sociobiological ethic. All other pronouncements of how we should believe or what we should do derive from this assumption. Whether it is true is not the point. Some might think that Homo sapiens is a cancer in the body of the whole Earth. It should be cut out and destroyed.
But, if we believe this, we also believe that a cancer will eventually destroy itself by destroying its host. So, we should support it, nurture it, respect it and GROW it. It will collapse and die that much more quickly!
Too bad that the host will die as well.
The Queen is dead! Long live the Queen!
Sing to the tune "If I were Free":
IF I WERE FREE (AGAIN)
If I were free
To blow your mind,
I'd fry the world
And all Mankind
In boiling oil
Bubbling asphalt too,
To make a vast
And gruesome stew.
This weary world
Is full of swill!
And of its rot
I've had my fill!
The time has come
For terror's day,
'Cause horror wins
and Terror pays!
If you should see
That mushroom cloud
A French fried crowd,
Don't try to run,
Just kneel and pray.
You shall have seen
Our very last day!
As one of our most cherished Myths, Christianity has its uses. It is a very effective channel wherein we constrain God and make Him conform to our will. It is an antidote for Terror. It is an emolient for Horror. It may yet save us from ourselves!
I do not know whether fundamentalist and orthodox Christians are truly becoming Green these days of Gore. But, if one has a sense of any value in the traditions of Jesus and the Myth of Christ she might consent to a course of action that may help to break down further the rusty bulkheads and crumbling walls between Christians for the sake of humanity herself. It is not the Bible, Christian dogma nor doctrines of Faith that are the enemy. It is ministers, priests, pastors, bishops and popes! The Satanic architects of our hellish divisions glibly preach to us every Sunday morning. They write puffy essays on popular personal websites, too!
If you feel this is true, you may indeed be a New Christian Rabbi. You are one who is literate in some of the matters of Christian Faith, you have become a scholar of sorts. And, you have not been diced, chopped and crammed into myriad pink, green, yellow and blue little boxes by any type of university professor on the hillside in some stuffy, formal, ticky-tacky establishment divinity school. And, you certainly are not ordained! Still, it is your wisdom, your concern, your learning and your intelligence that qualify you as a RABBI.
Run with it!
See my website at http://hometown.aol.com/nuchristianrabbi/